Amazon opens Sidewalk IoT network to third-party devices

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Amazon’s low-bandwidth, long-range IoT network, Sidewalk, has grown rapidly and is now available for third-party device makers to integrate.

Sidewalk currently links many of Amazon’s devices, including Echo smart speakers and Ring doorbells, to create a network that now covers nine out of 10 Americans.

Amazon has announced that it’s opening applications for hardware development test kits that will enable third-party companies to validate the Sidewalk network and prototype products that take advantage of it.

Dave Limp, SVP of Devices & Services at Amazon, said:

“We’ve rapidly built out a long-range, low-bandwidth network that now covers more than 90% of the US population, and this is an open invitation for developers to put it to the test.

Many types of connected devices have been limited by the range of Wi-Fi and the cost of cellular technology, which has hindered the ability to connect devices like environmental sensors, leak detectors, and smart locks.

Sidewalk is designed to provide a secure, low-cost way to invent and connect a whole new range of devices, and we can’t wait to see what developers build.”

The ad-hoc network was initially created to allow Ring doorbells to communicate with Amazon’s servers via neighbouring Echo smart speakers, even if the doorbell lost internet connectivity. Now, Amazon is seeking to expand the use of the network to cover devices that are not well served by existing connectivity options such as Wi-Fi or Bluetooth alone.

The network works by automatically detecting and connecting nearby Echo and Ring devices using Bluetooth and 900MHz LoRa. For example, a home security vendor could integrate Sidewalk into their platform to keep devices connected if the internet goes down, without needing a cellular modem backup.

Amazon clearly believes that Sidewalk is now ready to commoditise and expand its reach by integrating with third-party devices, such as environmental sensors, asset tracking devices, and smart door locks.

Some of the initial third-party devices that will take advantage of Sidewalk include a multi-sensor environment monitor from Netvox, a high-value package tracker from OnAsset, and a smart door lock from Primax.

Amazon has also rolled out several developer tool kits to facilitate the integration of Sidewalk radios and APIs into existing products. The kits are built in collaboration with leading chipmakers and are designed to work with Amazon Web Services’ (AWS) IoT Core platform.

Yasser Alsaied, VP of IoT at AWS, commented:

“The integration of AWS IoT Core and Amazon Sidewalk marks a significant milestone for developers, manufacturers, and customers, streamlining the design, connection, and deployment of Amazon Sidewalk-based IoT solutions.

Now, with AWS IoT Core for Amazon Sidewalk, developers can access more than 200 AWS services to build scalable solutions on top of a highly reliable, secure, and free-to-connect wireless network.”

However, privacy concerns have been raised over building out a low-bandwidth, long-range network of this kind. 

Amazon says that it has incorporated several layers of privacy and security to protect user data and prevent snooping by others using the network. Nevertheless, some privacy advocates have raised concerns about potential abuse.

Users who are uncomfortable participating in the Sidewalk network can opt-out through the Alexa app.

Developers can request their test kit today here. They can then visit the AWS IoT Console to begin building Sidewalk-enabled devices.

(Image Credit: Amazon)

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